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Darlington Cares’ members prepare to help revitalise primary school’s garden


Local firms are teaming up to revitalise a Darlington primary school’s garden to help pupils benefit from an outdoor learning environment.

Darlington Cares’ members will work with St. Mary’s Cockerton Primary School on April 26th and 27th on the Big Community Challenge to revamp the garden so it can be used as an outdoor classroom.

The project, which is being supported by Darlington Building Society and its members, will see employees of the town’s businesses, pupils and teachers of the school helping to rejuvenate the area by refurbishing flower beds, renovating fencing, planting seeds and much more.

It is expected that over 100 volunteers will participate in the project, which is being delivered in partnership with Groundwork North East & Cumbria.

Darlington Cares Director Seth Pearson said: “We are thrilled to be working with some fantastic businesses on this environmental project.

“It’s great to be delivering this project alongside Groundwork North East & Cumbria. The team will be providing its expertise in wildlife and horticulture and arranging for the more technical and heavy-duty work to be done. They will ensure that the work we do will allow the wildlife to flourish and provide an amazing resource for the children.

“The aim of this project is to bring together an enormous volunteer army to take on a large-scale project that will benefit a local community. Once upon a time St. Mary’s Cockerton Primary School had a beautiful nature garden for the children but sadly over time nature has taken over the garden, like Sleeping Beauty’s castle. We are determined to hack through and give it the kiss of life it needs to bring it back for the children.”

Chief Executive of Darlington Building Society Colin Fyfe said: “I am delighted that the Society is able to support such a worthy project. Our members vote each year for areas they would like us to show our support and this falls right in the heart of those. We’re looking forward to seeing the children at the school learning about nature and appreciating being outdoors amongst wildlife.

“We have many members at our Cockerton Branch and hope that their children feel the benefit.”

NHS England-sponsored programme Healthy New Towns (HNT), whose aim is to build a healthy community, has generously offered to provide the pupils at the school with wellies so they can be part of the project and use them to explore the area.

Students from Darlington College are also playing their part in the project by rebuilding raised flower beds.

The Headteacher of St. Mary’s Cockerton Primary School, Michael Joyeux, said: “One of the best things about our school is our ground and abundance of green space.

“For years we’ve looked over at our planters, pond area and mini-beast area and dreamed that one day our pupils would be able to use it again, but the task of reclaiming it just seemed too great.

“I’d like to say thanks to Darlington Building Society, whose support has made this all possible, to Groundwork North East, whose know-how has ensured this will be a sustainable resource, to HNT, which has provided wellies for our kids, and of course to the members and volunteers at Darlington Cares.

“We pride ourselves as being a part of the community, as we teach our children to be socially responsible and caring, and we are so thankful to an entire community coming together to support our school.”

To celebrate the completion of the refurbishment and the new look of the garden, pupils and the community will be invited for a picnic, with food, refreshments and entertainment, on Saturday, April 28th.

To find out more about Darlington Cares, its projects and volunteering opportunities, visit www.darlingtoncares.co.uk.

Twitter: @darlingtoncares

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